The Eve of the Funeral (a poem)

On the eve of the funeral, there was a knot in my stomach –

his death was so sudden

a Friday night phone call + he’s gone forever

I felt panic, a wave of grief that threatened to demolish me

my sister stepped into the summer night + screamed

a primal shout that began long years of healing.

(Photo by Richard Burlton on Unsplash)

When Democracy Died (a poem)

When democracy died, I was reading Kafka –

gunshots blared + factions fought for ideals

they thought worth dying for –

TVs tuned to Washington +

the White House went dark,

troops marched + destroyed dissidents.

Continue reading

Sainthood (a poem)

What happened to the woman who

was nearly stoned to death?

Jesus said to not sin again,

but if she’s like me, she was

back in sweaty sheets later that day,

engaged in sinful acts – it’s a fact that

we’re far from saints + sainthood is

a hatred of humanity

but Jesus was half-God,

so it’s not so odd to believe

He died for me + whether I sin today

or tomorrow doesn’t matter much

because grace is free

(Photo by Laura Allen on Unsplash)

Church Basements (a poem)

A teacher told my mother I’d join a cult –

that was in the ‘90s + twenty years later,

I was a recovery zealot, driving through

snowstorms to share my sorrows with

strangers, always thinking I was in danger,

fighting my impulses + a mind that

seemed to want me dead.

(Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash)

Buried Treasure (a poem)

Buried deep in this sea, there is ancient treasure –

it’s been hidden for ages, from a sunken ship

that carried gold and human remains,

but all that remains

are brittle bones, skulls + chests filled with fortune –

I’ll dive deep + discover it, even if it kills me,

bring it back to this sandy shore so I can

explore this coastline dotted with land mines

from a distant war – the war that took my father + tore

this island nation to pieces: the woman wailing,

lonely in their huts without their husbands +

the children afraid of the night

when mutant-men prowl swamplands of death

+ devour human and beast alike.

(Photo by Max Okhrimenko on Unsplash)

Reborn (a poem)

This birthmark on my back is a mark I carry

from body to body – I die, am reborn

in another time, but my soul remains the same –

forever after the same truth, relentless in pursuit +

snared in masses of mankind + the death-march of progress

toward blood-soaked extinction or utopian dream

(Photo by Majid Rangraz on Unsplash)

Note: This poem was inspired by a theme in the novel, Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell. It’s a terrific book and I highly recommend it!

When I Die (a poem)

When I die, I want to go quietly – free from the miseries

of my body breaking down, organs sickened,

cutting off life as drift away.

When I die, I want to wake in a better world,

away from earth’s torments + the adverse emotions

gurus say we must bear.

Continue reading

Impending Doom (a poem)

Where do those neighbors get their money?

They’re up late on weeknights, drinking beer,

playing games in the street – the young woman

has glazed eyes, she’s always stoned;

the boyfriend doesn’t have a care

in the world, in a world

where so many are dying

and a feeling of impending doom

clutches us by the throat.

(Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash)

The Pale Woman (a poem)

Down the winding path, you go deep into the forest –

the dense birch trees make it so dark that only

a faint light breaks through and illuminates

the leave-strewn path.

You were told to avoid this place – a place

where corpses dangle from branches and

lay twisted on the forest floor, their faces

stuck in a final moment of eagerness to

kill a lifetime of sorrow.

Continue reading

You Built Me Palaces out of Paragraphs

Most of our country has been in some form of quarantine or social distancing for about three and a half months.  I was sent home from work on March 5 because I had a sneeze. Fear was already high in the Philadelphia area. Those first eight days, I had some freedom – I still went to teach at religious school the following Sunday and Wednesday in New Jersey.  I had no idea that a few days later, my entire office would be sent home, and our state would put in place a stay-at-home order.

Continue reading